Edgar G. Ulmer Package

Edgar Georg Ulmer (September 17, 1904 – September 30, 1972) was an Austrian-American film director. He is best remembered for the movies The Black Cat (1934) and Detour (1945). These stylish and eccentric works have achieved cult status, whereas Ulmer’s other films remain relatively unknown.

Ulmer was born in Olomouc, in what is now the Czech Republic. As a young man he lived in Vienna, where he worked as a stage actor and set designer while studying architecture and philosophy. He did set design for Max Reinhardt’s theater, served his apprenticeship with F. W. Murnau, and worked with directors including Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann and cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan, inventor of the Schüfftan process. He also claimed to have worked on Der Golem (1920), Metropolis (1927), and M (1931), but there is no evidence to support this. Ulmer came to Hollywood with Murnau in 1926 to assist with the art direction on Sunrise (1927). In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, he also recalled making two-reel westerns in Hollywood around this time.

The first feature he directed in North America, Damaged Lives (1933), is a low-budget exploitation film exposing the horrors of venereal disease. It was shot in Hollywood, with a medical reel provided by the American Social Hygiene Association, for the Canadian Social Health Council and premiered in Toronto.

His next film, The Black Cat (1934), starring Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff, was made for a major studio, Universal Pictures. Demonstrating the striking visual style that would be Ulmer’s hallmark, the film was Universal’s biggest hit of the season. Ulmer, however, had begun an affair with the wife of independent producer Max Alexander, nephew of Universal studio head Carl Laemmle. Shirley Alexander’s divorce and subsequent marriage to Ulmer led to his being exiled from the major Hollywood studios. Ulmer would spend most of his directorial career making B movies at Poverty Row production houses. His wife, now Shirley Ulmer, would act as script supervisor on nearly all of his films, and she wrote the screeenplays for several. Their daughter, Arianne, appeared as an extra in several of his films.

Consigned to the fringes of the U.S. motion picture industry, Ulmer specialized first in “ethnic films,” notably in Ukrainian… Ulmer eventually found a niche making melodramas on tiny budgets and with often unpromising scripts and actors for Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). His PRC thriller Detour (1945) has won considerable acclaim as a prime example of low-budget film noir, and it was selected by the Library of Congress among the first group of 100 American films worthy of special preservation efforts….

Ulmer died in 1972 in Woodland Hills, California, after a crippling stroke. He is interred in the Hall of David Mausoleum in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA. His wife, Shirley, is interred nearby. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of his death, a three-day symposium of lectures and screenings was held at New York City’s New School in November 2002. In 2005, researcher Bernd Herzogenrath uncovered the address where Ulmer was born in Olomouc. A memorial plaque commemorating Ulmer’s birth home was unveiled on September 17, 2006, on the occasion of Ulmerfest 2006—the first European academic conference devoted to Ulmer’s work.

FATW has seven Ulmer-directed or co-directed features:

BLUEBEARD
CLUB HAVANA
DETOUR
HER SISTER’S SECRET
LOVES OF THREE QUEENS
STRANGE ILLUSION (a/k/a OUT OF THE NIGHT)
WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO, THE

BLUEBEARD  (1944)

C. 12 November 1944  P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP13562
B&W  73 Mins.  PD

Director:        Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:           Pierre Gendron
Producer:      Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:  Jockey A. Feindel
Art Dir.:         Paul Palmentola
Music Dir.:    Leo Erdody
Composer:    Leo Erdody
Editor:           Carol Pierson
Set.Decor.:   Glenn Thompson
Cast:              John Carradine, Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Ludwig Stossel, Iris Adrian, Emmett
Lynn, Henry Kilker, Teala Loring, Patti McCarty, George Pembroke, Sonia Sorel,
Anne Sterling

“One of the best pictures to come out of the PRC production mill, ‘Bluebeard’ is a horror film that should be able to bring good returns as the top film on neighborhood duals.  Locale is Paris in the 19th century.  John Carradine gives an excellent portrayal of an artist with an uncontrollable desire to strangle his models after he has painted their portraits.  Jean Parker, as one of the models, gives one of her better performances in bringing the killer to justice.  Others who help make this chiller topflight are Nils Asther as a member of the French Suerete, and Ludwig Stossel, as an art dealer.  Production has some expensive settings and pretty costumes.” (Variety, January 31, 1945) “John Carradine scores as a psychotic artist who strangles his models.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

CLUB HAVANA  (1946)

C. 5 Nov. 1945  P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP13581
B&W  62 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                 Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                    Ray Schrock
Producer:               Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:          Ben Kline
Composer:             Howard Jackson
Editor:                    Carl Pierson
Story:                     by Frederick Jackson
Cast:                       Tom Neal, Margaret Lindsay, Don Douglas, Isabelita, Dorothy Morris, Ernest
Truex, Donald Douglas, Gertrude Michael, Paul Cavanagh, Pedro de Cordoba,
Marc Lawrence, Renie Riano, Eric Sinclair, Sonia Sorel

“Edgar G. Ulmer-directed film about a number of different  characters “unfolding love, hate, and death problems during an evening in a fashionable Latin nitery…. Carlos Molina Orch. plus vocals by Isabelita, who sings ‘Tico Tico’ and ‘Besame Mucho,’ show up as relief. Ditto a samba dance performed by Iris and Pierre.”   (Variety, January 23, 1946)

“A kind nightclub owner comes to the aid of an employee who is despondent over a failed romance.  The musical is a cheap reproduction of Grand Hotel.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

Review, IMDB:

“This movie is very hard to find, even if it is an Ulmer’s one. Produced by PRC company and starring Tom Neal, we can consider it as a sort of poor man’s Grand Hotel, that takes place in Havana, of course. The topic is not very interesting, a mystery mixed with romance and musical. Only the climax is really not bad. But I was very glad that the running time was only 63 minutes. That’s not the best Ulmer movie ever. Far from that. But if you are a great PRC films fan, try it anyway. Or for the warm Caribbean nights atmosphere. You can also hear, in this movie, some well known songs. A cheap movie. And a rare one. Nothing more.”

DETOUR  (1945)

C. 7 Nov. 1945 P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP13599
B&W  60 Mins. PD

Director:                         Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                            Martin G. Goldsmith
Producer:                       Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:                  Ben Kline
Art Director:                 Edward C. Jewell
Composer:                     Leo Erdody
Editor:                            George McGuire
Set Decor.:                     Glenn Thompson
Costumes:                      Mona Barry
Makeup:                         Bud Westmore
Story:                             “Detour,” by M.M. Goldsmith
Cast:                                Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald, Esther
Howard, Tim Ryan, Don Brodie, Roger Clark, Patrick Gleason

Edgar G. Ulmer-directed “B” masterpiece “based on a novel story idea…. Uniformly good performances and some equally good direction and dialog keep the meller moving…”  “Theme is the buffeting that man gets from the fates.”   New York pianist hitchhikes west to join aspiring actress girlfriend, gets ride with gambler who dies naturally en route.  Pianist panics, takes his car, identity and money and drives on, only to pick up woman  hitchhiker who turns out to have previously hitchhiked with the gambler, and realizes that the pianist is not who he is pretending to be.  She blackmails the pianist and is accidently strangled by him.  “Outstanding camera work… score, revolving around some Chopin themes, aids in backing up the film’s grim mood.”  (Variety, January 23, 1946)

“Ulmer’s camera, shackled by his modest production budget, obviously never moves from New York to Los Angeles.  If the journey is made, it is because [the piano player] voyages metaphorically to an understanding of his immediate present through images and the sound of his own voice, through the process of reviewing his arrival and imagining the closed door of his future.  Such an understanding precludes the self-awareness that could reveal to him that his own character has determined the twists of the road.” (Film Noir, Silver and Ward, The Overland Press, 1979)

“Though never intended to be anything more than a PRC time-filler, Detour has in the last two decades achieved cult status, thanks in great part to the auteurist disciples of director Edgar G. Ulmer.  The story begins when hitchhiker Tom Neal accepts a ride from affable gambler Edmund MacDonald.  When MacDonald suffers a fatal heart attack, Neal, afraid that he’ll be accused of murder, disposes of the body, takes the man’s clothes and wallet, and begins driving the car himself.  He picks up beautiful but sullen Ann Savage, who suddenly breaks the silence by asking “What did you do with the body?”  It turns out that Savage had earlier accepted a ride from MacDonald and has immediately spotted Neal as a ringer.  Holding the threat of summoning the police over his head, Ann forces Neal to continue his pose so that he can collect a legacy from MacDonald’s millionaire father, who hasn’t seen his son in years (at this point, it sounds suspiciously as if the plot was made up as the filmmakers went along).  All intrigues come to a sudden halt when Neal accidentally strangles Savage.  He wanders into the night, thumbing rides, awaiting the inevitable arrest.  Filmed in just a few days on a threadbare budget, Detour has a curious hallucinatory quality, rather like a recurring nightmare.  Ignored for many years, the film was rediscovered by the French cineastes of the 1950s and hailed as the vanguard for France’s “nouvelle vague.”  The haunted leading performance of star Tom Neal is eerily prophetic; in real live, he would serve six years in prison for killing his wife.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

Trivia, fromIMDb:

–  Was the first “B” movie chosen by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry, in 1992. Also the first Hollywood “Noir” honored.

–Shot quickly in mostly two locations: the hotel room apartment, and the car in front of a
rear projection screen on a soundstage at PRC. The actual shooting schedule was 28 days, including a brief location shoot in Lancaster, California for the desert scenes, and backplates for rear projection.

–The budget PRC gave director Edgar G. Ulmer for this film was so small that the 1941 Lincoln Continental V-12 convertible driven by Charles Haskell was actually Ulmer’s personal car.

–[Famed director] Errol Morris’ favorite film. He said of it: “It has an unparalleled quality of despair, totally unrelieved by hope.”

–German filmmaker Wim Wenders called Ann Savage’s performance as Vera “30 years ahead of it’s time”.

–Ann Savage and Tom Neal made three movies together at Columbia Pictures before Detour. PRC re-teamed them for “Detour” to exploit the publicity and press buildup they had been given in 1943 and 1944.

–Ann Savage worked on her biography for the last decade of her life. It was released in early 2010 called ‘Savage Detours’.

–While setting up to film a hitchhiking scene, a passing car tried to pick up Ann Savage (made up to look dirty and disheveled), causing laughter in the rest of the crew.

–It is frequently reported that this film was shot only in one week. In truth, the shooting schedule was 28 days. The “one week” myth appears to be based on an off-hand remark by director Edgar G. Ulmer toward the end of his life.

–To save on production costs,’Leo Erdödy’, the film’s composer, was recorded and filmed playing two classical piano pieces, Chopin Waltz No. 7 in C# minor and Brahms Waltz Op. 39 no. 15 in Ab Major as a favor for the director,Edgar G. Ulmer. Al Roberts (Tom Neal) “performs” the piano pieces during scenes set in the “Break of Dawn” nightclub. Erdödy’s hands, in close-up, can be seen playing during the Brahms.

Memorable quotes, from IMDb:

1.    Al Roberts: So when this drunk handed me a ten spot after a request, I couldn’t get very
excited. What was it I asked myself? A piece of paper crawling with germs. Couldn’t buy
anything I wanted.

2.    Al Roberts: That’s life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.

3.    Al Roberts: Yes. Fate, or some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me for no
good reason at all.

4.    Al Roberts: [voiceover] It wasn’t much of a club really. You know the kind. A joint where
you could have a sandwich and a few drinks and run interference for your girl on
the dance floor.

5.    Charles Haskell Jr.: I was tussling with the most dangerous animal in the world, a woman.

6.    Al Roberts: [as narrator after thumbing a ride] I guess at least an hour past before I noticed
those deep scratches on his right hand. They were wicked, three puffy red lines about
a  quarter inch apart. He must have seen me looking at them because he said…
Charles Haskell Jr.: Beauties, arent they? They’re gonna be scars someday. What an
animal!
Al Roberts: Whatever it was, it must have been pretty big and vicious to have done that!
Charles Haskell Jr.: Right on both counts, New York! I was tussling with the most
dangerous animal in the world – a woman!
Al Roberts: She must’ve been Tarzan’s mate! Looks like you lost the bout!
Charles Haskell Jr.: Certainly wasn’t a draw! You know, there oughta be a law against
dames with claws!

7.    Al Roberts: [as narrator] What kind of dames thumb rides? Sunday School teachers?

8.    Al Roberts: [as narrator] Until then I had done things my way, but from then on something
stepped in and shunted me off to a different destination than the one I’d picked for myself.

9.    Al Roberts: [as narrator] As I drove off, it was still raining and the drops streaked down
the windshield like tears.

10.    Vera: Life’s like a ball game. You gotta take a swing at whatever comes along before you
find it’s the ninth inning.
Al Roberts: You read that somewhere…

11.    Al Roberts: Oh, sure, Phoenix. You look just like a Phoenix girl.
Vera: Are the girls in Phoenix that bad?

12.    Vera: I’m gonna see that you sell this car so you don’t get caught.
Al Roberts: Thanks! Of course, your interest wouldn’t be financial, would it? You wouldn’t
want a small percentage of the profits?
Vera: Well, now that you insist, how can I refuse? 100% will do!
Al Roberts: Fine! I’m relieved! I thought for a moment you were gonna take it all!
Vera: I don’t wanna be a hog!

13.    Al Roberts: How far you goin’?
Vera: How far YOU goin’?
Al Roberts: [as narrator] That took me by surprise, and I turned around to look at her.
She was facing straight ahead, so I couldn’t see her eyes. She was young – not more
than 24.  Man, she looked like she had been thrown off the crummiest freight train in the
world! Yet in spite of that, I got the impression of beauty, not the beauty of a movie
actress, mind you, or the beauty you dream about with your wife, but a natural beauty,
a beauty that’s almost homely, because it’s so real. And suddenly she turned to face me…
Vera: How far did ya say you were goin’?

14.    Al Roberts: Vera was just as rotten in the morning as she’d been the night before?

15.    Vera: We’re outta liquor, Roberts!
Al Roberts: Yeah!
Vera: Too bad! I wanted to get tight tonight!
Al Roberts: Well, I think you succeeded!
Vera: Am I tight?
Al Roberts: As a prima donna’s corset!

16.    Vera: Say who do you think you’re talking to – a hick? Listen Mister, I been around, and I
know a wrong guy when I see one. What’d you do, kiss him with a wrench?

17.    Al Roberts: He was a piece of cheese, the big blowhard.

18.    Al Roberts: He got his for being greedy. He wasn’t satisfied, so the final windup was he
took the count. A couple of day ago you didn’t have a dime. Why you were so broke, you
couldn’t pay cash for a postage stamp.

19.    Vera: You’re no gentleman, see?

20.    Al Roberts: Money. You know what that is, the stuff you never have enough of. Little
green things with George Washington’s picture that men slave for, commit crimes
for, die for. It’s the stuff that has caused more trouble in the world than anything else
we ever invented, simply because there’s too little of it.

21.    Al Roberts: Ever done any hitchhiking? It’s not much fun, believe me. Oh yeah, I know all
about how it’s an education, and how you get to meet a lot of people, and all that. But
me, from now on I’ll take my education in college, or in PS-62, or I’ll send $1.98 in
stamps for ten easy lessons.

22.    Vera: If you act wise, well, mister, you’ll pop into jail so fast it’ll give you the bends!

23.    Vera: I’d hate to see a fellow as young as you wind up sniffin’ that perfume Arizona hands
out free to murderers!

24.    Vera: Do I rate a whistle?

25.    Vera: Shut-up, yer makin’ noises like a husband

26.    Vera: Boy-o boy! Sure feels good to be clean again!

27.    Al Roberts: The world is full of skeptics.

28.    Al Roberts: I was dead tired.

HER SISTER’S SECRET  (1946)

C. 12 Sept. 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP598
B&W  85 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                   Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                       Anne Green
Producer:                 Henry Brash
Cinematog.:             Franz Planer
Art Director:            Edward C. Jewell
Composer:                Hans Sommer
Editor:                       Jack W. Ogilvie
Story:                        “Dark Angel,” by Gina Kaus
Cast:                           Nancy Coleman, Regis Toomey, Philip Reed, Margaret Lindsay, Felix
Bressart, Henry Stephenson, Rudolph Anders, Fritz Feld, Helen Heigh,
George Meeker,  Winston Severn, Frank Williams

A soap-opera like romantic drama “about a love-smitten New Orleans lass who has a child out of wedlock, secretly gives the baby to her married, childless sister and then is tormented by maternal yearning…” (The New  York Times, January 23, 1947)

“An unusually elaborate film from the bargain-basement PRC studios, Her Sister’s Secret is set in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time.  The “secret” involves an illegitimate child.  Nancy Coleman is impregnated by a soldier on leave, and when she fears that he’ll never return, she persuades her married sister (Margaret Lindsay) to raise the child.  The better-than-usual cast includes Phillip Reed as the soldier, along with Regis Toomey, Felix Bessart and Henry Stephenson.  Her Sister’s Secret was the sort of B-plus fare that PRC would specialize in when it reorganized in 1947 and changed its name to Eagle-Lion.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

Review, IMDb:    “I saw this film at a screening several years ago at the Edinburgh Film
Festival. The picture was actually introduced by Mr.Ulmer’s daughter. It’s a typical 1940’s melodrama that is well directed. It is apparent in viewing the film that Ulmer knew exactly what he was doing when he made a movie. It was only the second Ulmer film I had seen, the first being the superior Detour. I can’t remember the plot in too much detail because it was a while ago, but it involves an illegitimate child. It has a good social message in that it sheds light on how so-called “bastard” children are sometimes the subjects of social discrimination. I’m surprised it hasn’t received more votes. I guess I was lucky to catch that screening.”

LOVES OF THREE QUEENS (1954) (a/k/a L’AMANTE DI PARIDE [original Italian title],
a/k/a ETERNAL FEMINAS (Italy), FRAUEN (Austria), a/k/a  LA MANZANA DE LA
DISCORDIA (Spain), a/ki/a THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND SHIPS (UK) )

1954; France/Italy; Technicolor; video RT 93 Mins.; U.S. theatrical runtime 73 Mins.

Directors:    Marc Allégret, Edgar G. Ulmer
Writers:       Marc Allégret, Hugh Gray (story), Æneas MacKenzie (screenplay and story),
Vittorio Nino Novarese, Roger Vadim, Salka Viertel
Producers:   Hedy Lamarr, Victor Pahlen
Music:           Nino Rota
Cinematog.: John Allen, Desmond Dickinson, Guglielmo Lombardi, Fernando Risi
Editor:          Manuel del Campo
Cast:             Hedy Lamarr, Massimo Serato, Alba Arnova, Elli Parvo, Cathy O’Donnell,
Piero Pastore, Enrico Glori, Robert Beatty, Anna Amendola, Guido Celano,
Serena Michelotti, Cesare Danova, Terence Morgan, Richard O’Sullivan,
John Fraser, Gérard Oury, Milly Vitale, Luigi Pavese, Nerio Bernardi,
Mimo Billi, Patrizia Della Rovere, Enzo Fiermonte, Ennio Girolami,
Rosy Mazzacurati, Valeria Moriconi, Aldo Nicodemi, Piero Palermini,
Flavia Solivani, Daniela Spallotta, Luigi Tosi, Marida Vanni, Stella Vitelleschi

New York Times online Synopsis:

“Beautiful Hedy Lamarr finds herself faced with a difficult decision when she must choose an appropriate costume for an important masquerade ball in this metaphorical fantasy that unfolds in three parts. To help her decide, she asks a trio of male friends. Their disparate suggestions that she go as either Helen of Troy, the Empress Josephine or Genieve de Brabant, and the reasons behind their choices provide the bulk of the film. Originally, the film was three hours long and purported to present the essence of being a woman.”  New York Times

IMDb Review:

“I absolutely adore Hedy Lamarr. When I first saw her face in a black and white movie on TV, way back, in the 1950’s, I was transfixed by what I saw. Since then, no female in the history of movies, has surpassed her great beauty; Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner came close. It never mattered that she was not a great actress… ‘Amante di Paride, L” was a mess of a film. Much of Hedy’s money went into this film, but the film was doomed by its very premise; and certainly Hedy could never have done anything with such a horrible script, and stupid story! I felt more sad than anything, because I always thought Hedy did not end up with the right directors, or the best scripts. This movie was pleasing enough on the eyes; but otherwise an assault to the other senses. This is not the way I prefer to remember Hedy.”

STRANGE ILLUSION (a/k/a OUT OF THE NIGHT) (1945)

C. 31 March 1945 P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  L 13657
B&W  80 Mins.  PD

Director:                           Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                               Adele Comandini
Producer:                          Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:                     Philip Tannura
Art Director:                    Paul Palmentola
Music Dir.:                        Leo Erdody
Editor:                                Carl Pierson
Set Decor.:                        Elias H. Reif/Harry Reif
Costumes:                          Harold Bradow
Story:                                   Fritz Rotter
Cast:                                      James Lydon, Sally Eilers, Regis Toomey, Warren William, Charles Arnt,
Jameson Clark, Jimmy Clark, John Hamilton, Jayne Hazard, Mary McLeod,
Victor Potel, George H. Reed, Sonia Sorel, Pierre Watkin

“Adolescent Paul Cartwright believes that his father’s death and his mother’s plans for remarriage are not merely coincidental.  This suspicion becomes solidified after he receives a letter written by his father before the man was found dead. Spurred on by this message from beyond the grave, Paul decides to feign insanity in the hopes of catching his mother’s suitor off guard and exposing him as his father’s murderer. Committed to an asylum by his mother at the prompting of her fiancé, Brett Curtis, the youth is subjected to intense scrutiny by the hospital staff. The plan nearly backfires in the sinister surroundings of the asylum, which drives Paul to the edge of sanity. Finally, the youth gathers enough evidence to convict his mother’s lover as his father’s murderer.

“Strange Illusion is another stylish, low-budget feature directed by Edgar G. Ulmer; but unlike his other noir efforts, notably Detour and Ruthless, Strange Illusion is a relatively actionless production.  The most interesting aspect of the film rests in its updating of Hamlet, complete with the message from beyond the grave and the faked insanity, into a contemporary thriller. The noir tone of Strange Illusion is accentuated by both Warren William’s portrayal of the lecherous cad and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the mental hospital. William, who for the previous decade had been one of the Warner’s studios matinee idols, adds a naturalistic dimension to the character of the suave, middle-aged gigolo Brett who leers at teenage girls lounging around a private pool. The asylum sequences, on the other hand, are controlled visions of chaos and corruption, a mental hell sardonically defined by Ulmer.” (Film Noir, Silver and Ward, The Overlook Press, 1979)

“In a “Hamlet”-type plot, a young man is concerned about his widowed Mother’s plans to remarry, particularly in light of his suspicions about the death of his Father. He pretends to an insanity which gets him nowhere but into an insane asylum, where he very nearly loses it altogether.  Pretty chilling, but otherwise slow and doesn’t hold together as well as “Hamlet.” “Corel All Movie Guide 2

Review, IMDB:

“ Having recurring dreams of his fathers Judge Cartwright tragic and deadly train accident every night Paul Cartwright,James Lydon, is convinced that his fathers death was no accident but a murder and the person who murdered his father is in his dream and in the shadows not being able to be recognized.Being very protective of his mother Virginia,Sally Eilers,Paul gets very agitated and concerned when she gets engaged to marry a Mr. Brett Curtis, Warren Williams. Curtis comes across as a suave and sophisticated as well as well traveled gentleman who swept Virginia right off her feet. But Paul who feels that he’s just not what he is and his background it’s just too perfect to be real. In his awakening state of mind Paul sees the events in his dream accruing over and over in real life which convinces him that there’s something very strange and sinister about the very debonair and smooth talking Brett Curtis. Paul also has a grudging feeling that Brett is the man in the shadows in his dream who was responsible for his fathers death and also wants to keep his mother from marrying him. Early cinematic psychological study about the mind and it’s deepest secrets and how they come to the surface when we least expect them to Which makes the movie “Strange illusions” a unique movie for it’s time, 1945, and as far as I know has never been duplicated since. Things in the film like Brett’s strange behavior in regards to Paul whom he senses is somehow on to him and his intentions has him lose his cool from time to time and almost expose himself as the psychotic that he really is. Paul has tapped into something real and deadly through his subconscious, his dreams, but unknowing to Paul Brett is working with Professor Muhlbach,Charles Arnt, who runs the Restview Sanitarium where Paul will soon be staying at. Looking into his late fathers files, that he kept locked in his study, Paul finds out about a mysterious Mr. Claude Barrington who Paul’s father was very interested in. Judge Cartwright felt that Barrington committed a string of crimes from murder and rape to embezzlement dating back to 1932 when he was married to the former miss. Cecilia Gordon who was found drowned some six months after their marriage. Barrington seemed to have vanished and then popped up and commit crimes almost at will all across the American Southwest. Barrington has a talent to disappear and resurface after each crime with a new and bogus identity and successfully avoided being fingerprinted or photographed. It was Judge Cartwright’s closing in on him and being about to expose him and have him arrested, and made to pay for his crimes, that led to his unfortunate “accident”. Paul also feels that Barrington faked his own death and is now back to eliminate those who may be able to expose him as still being alive by being in the position of finding Judge Cartwright secret files; the Judge’s family. Paul is sure that the late Claude Barrington is the very alive Brett Curtis. Having to get rid of Paul but not until Brett is legally married to Virginia Brett and Professor Muhlbach plan to have Paul committed in his sanitarium and then have an “Accident” that will put his searching for the truth, about his dead father, to an end once in for all.

With Brett married to Virginia he can offer her sympathy comfort and understanding for the loss of her son and his step-son until the time is right for her to have an “Accident” too. With that Brett can get his hands on the Cartwright estate, and all the evidence that the judge gathered on him, and have it destroyed with no one who can be in the position to know about it, the Judge’s files, or get their hands on them. Mind twisting movie with a surprise ending that will more then just surprise.”

WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO, THE  (1946)

C. 18 June 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP387
B&W  80 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                 Elmer G. Ulmer
Writer:                     Dorcas Cochran
Producer:                Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:            Edward Kull
Art Director:           Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:               Paul Dessau
Editor:                      Douglas W. Bagler
Set Decor.:              Glenn Thompson
Story:                        character created by Alexandre Dumas; story “Thanks, God, I’ll Take It From
Here” written by Edgar Ulmer and Francis Rosenwald
Cast:                           Eva Gabor, John Loder, Lenore Aubert, Fritz Kortner, Charles Dingle,
Eduardo Ciannelli, Martin Kosleck, John Bleifer, Egon Brecher, Colin
Campbell, Clancy Cooper, Fritz Feld, Fritz Kortner, Anthony Warde, Crane
Whitely

“….If, in 1832, the Count’s wounds still smart, it is because his old enemies are still around and he still hates injustice.  And, if the Count’s lady gives him more than a measure of help, it is only because she too hates injustice and, besides, is as handy with a rapier as she is with repartee. But the action, heckled as it often is by badinage, is plentiful, and those rascals who have been mulcting the plague-ridden Parisians finally do get their just desserts. As ‘The Avenger’ for the down-trodden populace, the Count is pinked by the Prefects police and the Countess forsakes the salon for the leadership of her husband’s secret band, and after a prescribed number of clashes with the Gendarmerie and chases by moonlight, the bad men are liquidated, leaving the noble couple to ride into the sunset.  Lenore Aubert is beautiful as the Countess but rather colorless as a conspiring and athletic heroine, while Martin Kosleck makes a determined but unconvincing champion of the people. John Loder plays the iniquitous Prefect with sinister grace…” (The New York Times, April 8, 1946)

“Alexandre Dumas’ famous fictional count gets revenge in this lively sequel to the original story.  The Monte Cristo count begins by returning to Paris under an assumed name.  There he helps the beleaguered poor who must suffered from the early 19th-century revolution.  The cloaked count soon finds himself pursued by a cruel policeman.  The count’s brave wife throws the cop off her husband’s scent by dressing up as the masked avenger herself and proves that she too is most competent with a sword.  Swashbuckling mayhem ensues.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

Review, IMDB:

“When this was over, I was surprised to see that it was a PRC production. I should have known because it has the same look as Bluebeard, which Edgar Ulmer also directed. Ulmer is known for getting a lot out of low budgets. Add this one to the list. Paul Dessau’s rousing score adds immeasurably to the proceedings. But the credit has also to go to Ulmer for getting sharp and engaging performances out of his cast, to the screenplay writer, to the film editors and to the actors. John Loder has most of the screen time as villain de Villefort who has been milking the public with a fake anti-plague remedy. He’s in cahoots with Danglars (Charles Dingle), a recognizable actor, and Maillard (Fritz Kortner, also recognizable). The story is, of course, different from the traditional, and that is a merit. The prison escape is told in flashback. Here Dantes (Martin Kosleck) is again the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo, but he’s also a masked avenger like Zorro. However, for most of the movie, Kosleck is absent. His wife takes his place and for a good deal of the time she is stringing de Villefort along as he is a ladies man. Eva Gabor, sounding just like Zsa Zsa, has a small part. Eduardo Cianelli has a moderate part. The Countess is Lenore Aubert, whom I could not recall having seen before. She comes across quite strongly and radiantly. She’s believable in her role. The script has some good banter. But most of this story is adventure: dark nights, horses riding, attacks on the king’s men and on coaches, nighttime trials, dark prisons, a tavern in Montmartre, the roofs of Paris, close calls, swordplay, and escapes. My favorites are Loder and Kosleck with Dingle and Kortner also weighing in. Loder was very busy in 1945 and 1946. He appeared in 8 films. Actors strike while the iron is hot. The ones I’ve seen with him are all good, and he adds a great deal to them: The Brighton Strangler, Jealousy, and A Game of Death. In 1947 he did Dishonored Lady, another good appearance. Kosleck is always excellent. He too was very busy in 1945 and 1946 and his films at that time are all worth catching, like this one. He was in such enjoyable features as The Frozen Ghost, Pursuit to Algiers, The Spider, and House of Horrors.